Blair Walsh (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Blair Walsh was surprised he won the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award, despite kicking a game-tying field goal and hitting three more.
The Vikings didn’t win last Sunday (they didn’t lose either), but Blair Walsh came away a winner, being named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Walsh, who scored 14 points, making four field goals and two extra points, was surprised when he found out about winning the award.
“I never thought they would pick me for it,” Walsh said. “I felt good about the day we had – the snapping and holding were both very good – and we got four field goals, but we didn’t win. That isn’t always the case and usually it goes to somebody who made a winning field goal, not someone who kicked a tying field goal. I was happy they picked me, but it did come as a surprise.”
The Vikings haven’t had a lot of success this season, but they have seemingly cornered the market on the Special Teams Player of the Week. It’s the third time they’ve won a special team honor this season. Cordarrelle Patterson won the award in Week 8 for his 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and, prior to that, Patterson was named Special Teams Player of the Month for September.
In his rookie season, Walsh won the award three times and said being recognized by your peers is always a source of pride for kickers, but they come with a bittersweet component.
“This one feels as good as the ones from last year,” Walsh said. “You never know when you’re going to have a game where you’re called on to kick a lot of field goals. Ideally we have drives that end in touchdowns, not field goals. A lot of times when you have multiple field goals, it isn’t viewed as the best thing for the team because it means we got into scoring position a bunch of times, but scored more field goals than touchdowns.”
Walsh has 86 points this season, making 19 of 21 field goals and 29 of 30 extra points. In 27 career games, he has scored 187 points, making 54 of 59 field goals and 65 of 66 extra points. Walsh came to the Vikings with a lot of pressure replacing reliable veteran Ryan Longwell but said the Vikings have a solid special teams unit that gets its job done every week – not just Walsh, but long snapper Cullen Loeffler and punter/holder Jeff Locke.
“It may sound like a cliché, but it really is a team effort,” Walsh said. “Without Cullen and Jeff, it doesn’t matter what I do. They need to get the snap and hold taken care of and they both do it very well.”
What made Walsh’s honor impressive was that it was done at Green Bay with a game-time temperature of 18 degrees. It’s something Walsh will have to get used to, since the Vikings will spend the next two seasons playing his home games outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium.
“It’s always a challenge kicking in the cold,” Walsh said. “It took some getting used to for me because I kicked at (the University of) Georgia and didn’t play in a lot of cold weather games. You have to make adjustments in cold weather because the ball gets harder in those conditions and can knock about 5 yards off the distance of field goals and kickoffs. We took a lot of snaps outside last week to get us ready for those conditions and it paid off.”
With his four NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors under his belt, Walsh said winning the award never gets old. The fourth one is just as sweet as the first one. While Walsh doesn’t know when the next award is coming, he’s ready to pull in the award again, if his teammates don’t take it away from him.
“If it comes in a game we win, I’ll feel a lot better about if I get another one down the line,” Walsh said. “But, if Cordarrelle keeps stealing them away from kickers, that will be fine, too.”
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.